'Here we are, my lady, you go to Mama Wynna now.'

“Here we are, my lady, you go to Mama Wynna now,” the voice in the kitchen was saying.

Gunnilda came down the hall to find Duke Alred handing the Lady Margaret to her daughter.

“Well, good morning!” she said. “We wasn’t expecting to see Your Grace so early. Nor nobody else!”

“Why – Gunnilda!” he cried as she came around him into the light. “Thy two breasts are like two roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies!”

'Thy two breasts are like two roes that are twins!'

Gunnilda gasped. “Your Grace! The children!”

“Why, Gunnilda dear, I’m only quoting the Bible. No harm in that, is there, Wynna?”

“Well, I don’t know…” Gunnilda huffed, blushing.

“Forgive me, beloved, but your beauty took me by surprise. What good fairy has wrought this transformation?”

“Oh, this? This is all Githa Ashdown’s doing. I guess I wasn’t fine enough for my fine house.”

“Now, my dear, you are too fine for your house. You belong in a castle in the air, crowned with stars, and all the men will forget the moon in their adoration of your radiant eyes.”

“Oh, pish! Egelric warned me that if I wanted poetry I had only to ask Your Grace’s opinion.”

'Oh, pish!'

“If you want poetry, you must give me fair warning. Otherwise you will have only the ravings of a lunatic. But I must say, dear, that you have shaken my faith in my powers of imagination. I had no idea you were so lovely.”

“Oh, pish!”

“Isn’t she, Mama Wynn?”

Wynna smiled shyly up at him from the corner where she sat cooing over the Lady Margaret.

“All you lack, beloved, is a bit of jewelry on your pretty neck.”

'That's the same thing Githa said.'

“That’s the same thing Githa said.”

“Githa’s right, although I suppose she hadn’t the same reason for saying so. Speaking on behalf of men everywhere, it would be a great favor to us if you would put something on your throat on which we might honestly rest our eyes.”

'Put something on your throat on which we might honestly rest our eyes.'

“Your Grace is dreadful today!”

“I tell you, I’m not responsible for what I say when I am thus surprised. Next time I promise I shall be more circumspect.”

Gunnilda wasn’t sure what that meant, but she nodded. “Now what can I do for Your Grace today?” she asked.

“You – or Mama Wynn if you’re too busy – can care for her ladyship for an hour or two. I have been called to see the King, and her mother is away visiting the Countess. The servants will tell her where she might be found if I have not returned.”

“That would be a pleasure, but don’t you have a nurse for her ladyship?”

'Don't you have a nurse for her ladyship?'

He shrugged. “We do, but I like to leave her with you. I’m rather a silly Papa where she’s concerned. You don’t mind? If you’re too busy I shall send a maid down to do your work and leave you free to dote properly.”

“Oh, no, it’s a real pleasure. I could just sit and stare at her all day, she’s that pretty.”

“I was about to say the same thing as regards your lovely self, but His Majesty’s summons was most urgent.”

“Oh, pish!”

Alred laughed. “I do love you, Gunnilda, but if that girl’s first word is ‘pish’ I shall never forgive you!”

'If that girl's first word is 'pish' I shall never forgive you!'